Tuesday, January 11


When it comes down to it, the STORY was right. Only some last-minute questionable documents supporting what needed no support (Ben Barnes' own statement that he had, himself, at the request of a Bush buddy, gotten Bush Boy a valued spot at the head of the line for the TANG). Col. Killian's sentiments, as Mapes points out, were corroborated by his own commander and long-time secretary; the memos were just "icing" -- toxic icing, as it turned out, that poisoned the whole segment (I still suspect it was a Republican dirty trick to discredit the story!).

And boy, am I sick and tired of self-righteous pundits who LIE AND/OR MISLEAD THE PUBLIC EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK taking such glee in CBS', and Mapes/Rather/Heyward/et al's woes. I'm going to lose a TV or computer monitor to an angrily thrown shoe if I don't start on happy pills.


I am terribly disappointed in the conclusions of the report and its effects on the four of us who will no longer work at CBS News. I am disappointed as well for the entire organization. It has been my second family and I will miss my colleagues there.

I am shocked by the vitriolic scape-goating in Les Moonves's statement. I am very concerned that this actions are motivated by corporate and political considerations -- ratings rather than journalism. Mr. Moonves's response to the review panel's report and the panel's assessment of the evidence it developed in its investigation combine not only to condemn me, but to put all investigative reporting in the CBS tradition at risk.

Much has been made about the fact that these documents are photocopies and therefore cannot be trusted, but decades of investigative reporting have relied on just such copies of memos, documents and notes. In vetting these documents, we did not have ink to analyze, original signatures to compare, or paper to date. We did have context and corroboration and believed, as many journalists have before or after our story, that authenticity is not limited to original documents. Photocopies are often a basis for verified stories.

Before the Bush/Guard story aired, the newly found documents that supported it were thoroughly examined and corroborated. The contents of the new documents mesh perfectly, in large ways and small, with all previously known records. The new documents also were corroborated by retired Gen. Bobby Hodges, the late Col. Killian's commander, who said that the documents showed Col. Killian's true sentiments as well as his acttions in the case. After the broadcast, Marian Carr Knox provided the same corroboration in her televised interview. Yet, despite the panel's recognition of the heretofore unchallenged integrity of my work in the past, the panel was quick to condemn me here on the basis of statements of people who told my associates and me very different versions than what they told the panel.

I cooperated fully with the review panel, provided them with more than 1,000 pages of reporting and background materials and answered each and every one of their questions completely and truthfully. To the extent that my answers differed from others' statements, I can only emphasize my own honesty and integrity in attempting to reconstruct the details of the days leading up to the story's airing.

It is noteworthy the panel did not conclude that these documents are false. [emphasis mine]Indeed, in the end, all that the panel did conclude was that there were many red flags that counseled against going to air quickly. I never had control of the timing of any airing of a 60 Minutes segment; that has always been a decision made by my superiors. Airing this story when it did, was also a decision made by my superiors, including Andrew Heyward. If there was a journalistic crime committed here, it was not by me. Those superiors also made the decision to give the White House little time to consider or respond to the Killian documents. Contrary to the conclusions of the panel, I vetted all aspects of the story with my editors. In fact, as I have always done with my editors, I told them everything.

I believe the segment presented to the American people facts they were free to accept or reject, and that as those facts were presented, there was nothing that was false or misleading. I am heartened to see that the panel found no political bias on my part, as indeed I have none. For 25 years, I have built a reputation as a fair, honest and thorough journalist. I have had 15 wonderful years at CBS and four very bad months. I love and respect the people there and I wish them every good fortune.

January 10, 2005


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